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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR PAULETTE MAHURIN
Today we are fortunate to get the chance to speak with Paulette Mahurin. She is the author of the novel The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap.
Yammur.com: Thank you for stopping by, Paulette.
Paulette: First let me say thank you, Yammur.com, for having me at your site for this interview. I’m very grateful for the support for my book and help in forwarding awareness of tolerance.
Yammur.com: Well, we’re happy you’re here. So, tell us about The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap?
Paulette: The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britain’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When news of Wilde’s conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.
Yammur.com: Wow. So, what made you start writing something with such strong themes like those?
Paulette: I had been working with someone in the closet who had been molested, tortured by physical and verbal abuse, who was an adult afraid to come out. It didn’t matter what I did or said to try to help, the wounds were just too great. I had my attention on this when I took a writing class and we did an exercise that involved a photo of two women standing very close together dressed in circa twentieth century garb. That photo screamed out to me “lesbian couple afraid of being found out.” The story stayed with me and poured forth. It had to be written. When I did the research into that time period, Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment came up. Further research into his trial showed that it was a watershed time in history for gays, a dark stain on the history of tolerance world-wide for what was prior a degree of civil discourse quickly shattered into hatred and intolerance. The photo of the two women, the seed for the story, walked me to finding out about Oscar Wilde which to this day inspires me to speak on behalf of tolerance.
Yammur.com: Well, good for you. So, where else do your ideas come from? Is there anything in particular that you look to for inspiration?
Paulette: This is an interesting question. I’ve often laughed at myself when I think I’m an automatic idea factory. They come when I want them but most times when I don’t. I think this is why new age spirituality is so popular because it’s trying to help us humans think less. Ideas for stories come spontaneously; with this story, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, the original idea came from a photograph. Other stories come from real life situations, spontaneous connections made from a magazine article or event that sparks a whole new way of looking at something, and a story idea can even come from an object, a stuffed animal, piece of art, any assortment of things that present and up comes an idea about them, the seeds for story. Constructing these ideas into a full-length novel is the trick and that’s when I rely on my “thinking” and intuition to help me out, along with research.
Yammur.com: How long have you been writing for?
Paulette: As far back as I can remember, I wrote. It’s not as if one day I decided to write, rather it’s something that came naturally. I’ve always loved to write and find when I am writing it is a place of sanctuary, where I get to say whatever I want without fear of “what will people think.” I feel grateful that my life has afforded me the opportunity to be involved in this wonderful process.
Yammur.com: What do you enjoy most about the whole writing process?
Paulette: The initial writing and creating is the best, a spontaneous flow from the initial idea and research to the whole construct of the story, including the protagonist, the antagonist, all the sub-characters, the supporting roles, the themes, conflicts and tensions that lead to resolutions. My least favorite part is all the rewrites, the endless read through for typos and grammar, even while working with a publisher and multiple editors. I’ve found typos after it’s been through the final edit then it’s another round of back and forth and that can get very tedious but one most persevere if they want a good finished product and not some shoddy work.
Yammur.com: Is there anyone you turn to when you need an opinion or feedback about something you’ve just written?
Paulette: Depends on what it is. I rely on my husband for legal questions. He’s an attorney and was a great help in researching the laws and change of laws related to Oscar Wilde’s case. I consulted with a horse trainer on some of the scenes involving a horse, and had multiple other readers and feedback from their respective areas of expertise. I worked with a lesbian, an author and actress, who did a read and gave me a stack of books to read to help me come to an understanding of what it was like historically for lesbians so the story, the relationship between Mildred Dunlap and her partner Edra, would ring authentic. I consulted with a friend who has her own publishing company and is an former New York journalist on flow and design. I consulted with a professional (successful) screen/playwright for the creative read for feedback and that was invaluable as well. Her input filled pages and took me over a year in rewrites. I also turn to experts in various fields on the net to assist with the research and historical aspects for the book. I’ve had literature teachers read it and give feedback, people from the gay and lesbian community and although I am a Nurse Practitioner (like a general practitioner physician in the U.S.), I have had doctors read it for feedback on the medical themes. I’ve had a lot of readers and help with editing during the six year writing process of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap.
Yammur.com: Are you working on any other stories right now?
I wrote an award winning short story while in College (UCLA) that was about a couple, both with cancer, who met in their oncologists office and connected, bonded, into a beautiful relationship. I’m up to Chapter 7. I also have two other stories in varying degrees of rewrite to get out there. I’m at a bit of a standstill with these while continuing to promote, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, because all profits are going to Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA.
Yammur.com: Well, thank you very much, Paulette. It was great talking with you.
For more information on Paulette and her novel, you can visit her website: http://bookpromogroup2.weebly.com/paulette-mahurin.html
The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is available for sale at amazon.com & amazon.co.uk
Friday, February 22, 2013
Author Interview with Paulette Mahurin
I was in a writing class when the writing teacher brought tn a stack of photos. We were supposed to pick one and write a ten-minute mystery about. I saw this photo of two women standing really close together wearing long dark dresses that went from their neck to their ankles (circa turn of the twentieth century), they looked stiff and uncomfortable, like they were hiding something. I made them lesbians on the frontier afraid of being found out. That was the seed for the story. The actual inspiration came later, while doing research and I (actually my husband discovered) that Oscar Wilde had been imprisoned for having sex with another male in 1895. Britain had just changed their laws to make it illegal, a criminal offense, with a penalty of imprisonment of two years in a hard labor prison. Two years of laying on a wooden board, eating watery porridge, walking on a treat mill six hours a day, was torturous for me to conceive of. It kept me motivated and inspired to write this story, and keep the light on the injustice of Wilde’s imprisonment, through the metaphor of the lesbian couple being persecuted.
It changes depending on the perspective I’m viewing and they all make up a composite that moves the story along. I love Charley, who is tortured from the loss of his wife and through this devastation opens and grows in ways he’d never envisioned. Then there’s Gus, whose voice is all about living and expression through the world as it is, as it is experienced, and not buying into another’s belief system, no matter the “group-think” pressure that surrounds him in a small town. And, I love Mildred, who for the most part accepts the hand she’s dealt in life and continues to survive, make the best of what she can, and shows open heart generosity to a fault. These three move the story along, but there would be no story without Josie, the metaphor of hatred and prejudice that develops the needed conflict to hold the story and make it interesting, I like her in the way we all like sensationalistic things because it reflects in us areas to grow in and improve.
I can’t remember ever not writing but I do have a vivid memory of writing entries intoa little notebook at around the age of ten, poem, short stories, random prose and ideas.
There are so may great books and great characters that I’m hard pressed to come up with a specific answer. I can comment on one that really stands out as exemplary from Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, and that is Tom Joad. He is just paroled from prison for homicide, when he makes his way home to find the place has been deserted. By the time he finds his family, they are packing all their belongings to travel west to California in hopes of work. The story takes place during the debacle of the Dust Bowl, when families lost everything due to crops drying up. Tom Joad is a metaphor for the suffering these people experienced, he is the raw emotion we can all relate to when our loved ones suffer, not knowing where the next meal may come from. Steinbeck’s writing of this character is considered one of the best in American Literature. I was haunted by him and the story days after I finished it, and to this day vividly remember how it made me feel while reading it.
Is there any certain message you want readers to take from reading your book?
Posted by ~Felicia~ at 9:50 AM Email This
Thanks for the website and congratulations on the interview. I’ll definitely look into that site when I get my book finished up and on Kindle.
That’s great, glad to help. Wishing you tons of success with yours. Feel free to come back and let me know when it’s up and the title. 🙂
Thanks. I’m hoping my first book will be up by the end of the month, but it really depends on my cover artist right now. I’m learning how to be very patient. 🙂
I hear you! Well, friend, you know where to find me when it’s ready. 🙂